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community, and to participate fully in activities and relationships that create a sense of wholeness and well-being. In addition, the economic, social, and psychological burdens imposed by poor health on populations that are already disadvantaged can be particularly devastating (Kington and Nickens, 2001).

The Meeting on Emerging Issues in Hispanic Health

As a part of its long-standing tradition and continuing commitment to promote a national dialogue on race and diversity in the United States, the National Academies organized an expert meeting on Emerging Issues in Hispanic Health on April 10, 2002, that brought together experts in demography, public health, medicine, sociology, psychiatry, and other fields to examine key issues related to Hispanic health and well-being. Emerging Issues in Hispanic Health was a part of the National Academies’ effort to develop a larger, broad-scale study of Hispanics in the United States to explore the demographic, economic, and social trends affecting the Hispanic population in the areas of health, education, labor, immigration, community development, and others. This meeting provided an opportunity to move closer to the goal of launching this larger proposed study by initiating a more in-depth discussion of one topic—namely, health—that will be central to the scope of the broader study. Specifically, Emerging Issues in Hispanic Health sought to identify a set of health-related issues that would be addressed in the proposed study.

The Emerging Issues meeting was sponsored by the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In recognition of persistent health disparities and their impact on vulnerable populations, NIH developed a new strategic plan for 2002-2006 to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities.1 The Academies’ interest in Hispanic health coincides with NIH’s new focus, and as a part of that effort, the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research will be able to make use of this summary report in its work.


NIH’s Strategic Plan can be found at (viewed online May 28, 2002).

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